Silicon (Si) is the second most abundant element in soil and effectively counteracts the effects of various abiotic stresses, such as drought, heavy metal toxicity and salinity, on plants. In the present study the ameliorating effects of Si nutrition supplied as 2 mmol L−1 sodium silicate were investigated on hydroponically grown canola (Brassica napus L.) plants under salinity stress (i.e. 150 mmol L−1 sodium chloride). Salinity decreased plant growth parameters such as tissue fresh and dry weights. These decreases were accompanied by increased lignin contents, Na+ ion accumulation, increased lipid peroxidation and decreased chlorophyll contents in plants. Silicon nutrition, however, enhanced plant growth parameters and led to the prevention of lignin and the Na+ accumulation in shoots, reduced levels of lipid peroxidation in the roots and higher levels of chlorophyll. As a result of salinity, catalase activity in the whole plant and both soluble and cell wall peroxidase activities in the shoots decreased. Silicon nutrition, however, increased the reactive oxygen species scavenging capacity of salt-stressed plants through increased catalase and cell wall peroxidase activities. Thus, silicon nutrition ameliorated the deleterious effects of salinity on the growth of canola plants through lower tissue Na+ contents, maintaining the membrane integrity of root cells as evidenced by reduced lipid peroxidation, increased reactive oxygen species scavenging capacity and reduced lignification.